East Asia Theater

Hong Kong executive pushes new security law

Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee on Jan. 30 announced the commencement of a four-week consultation period for a new local security law under Article 23 of the Basic Law, the city's mini-constitution. Article 23 mandates that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) pass its own laws to prohibit crimes such as treason, secession, sedition and subversion against China's Central People's Government.

Wildcat labor actions spread in China

Although winning no coverage in English-language media, labor actions are spreading across China in the current economic downturn in the People's Republic. On Jan. 22, workers hung banners outside the headquarters of the Guilin No. 3 Construction Company in Guangxi province to demand payment of outstanding wages owed to hundreds of employees. On the same day, migrant workers in Jinan, Shandong province, raised banners in the city's central business district demanding payment of backlogged wages by the China Railway Construction Corporation. By definition, such actions are not authorized by the state-controlled All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU).

Arrests at Hong Kong's 'patriots-only' election

Hong Kong Chief Executive Ka-chiu Lee applauded the "good turnout" in the city's Dec. 10 "patriots-only" District Council elections—despite a tunrout of only 27.5%, the lowest in any race since the return to Chinese rule in 1997. He also charged that protesters had attempted to "sabotage" the vote. These were the first district-level polls since Hong Kong's government overhauled the electoral system, introducing changes that effectively made it impossible for pro-democratic candidates to run. Several pro-democracy hopefuls failed to obtain the required nominations from government-appointed committees. Most of the city's leading democracy advocates are behind bars, in exile, or have dropped out of politics.

China expands mosque closure campaign

The Chinese government has increased mosque closures in the northern Ningxia region and Gansu province, home to significant populations of Hui Muslims, according to a report released Nov. 22 by Human Rights Watch. The campaign of closures marks an expansion of the policy beyond the Uyghur people of Xinjiang region.  Officially termed "consolidation," the campaign calls for shutting down mosques or modifying their architectural features to align with more typically Chinese aesthetics. The Hui Muslims, a distinctive ethno-religious group in China numbering over 10 million, are now at the forefront of concerns regarding the government's broader campaign to "consolidate" mosques.

Hong Kong steps up crackdown on Cantopop stars

Hong Kong District Court judge Ernest Lin Kam-hung handed down a judgment Aug. 31 sentencing Tommy Yuen Man-on, a former Cantopop boy-band member, to 26 months imprisonment. Yuen was convicted of "acts with seditious intention" among other charges. Lin found that Yuen made seditious statements on Facebook and Instagram in 2021, including posts about the death of a marine police officer, injuries suffered by then Chief Executive Carrie Lam after a fall, and cases of officer misconduct. Lin asserted that Yuen had been insulting Hong Kong's government and implicitly advocating for Hong Kong independence.

Hong Kong: protester convictions overturned

Seven high-profile democracy activists in Hong Kong had part of their sentences thrown out on appeal Aug. 14. They were convicted two years ago over a mass demonstration on Aug. 18, 2019 that drew an estimated 1.7 million people, in defiance of a ban on street protests. The Court of Appeal's judgement found that just because they were at the front of the procession didn't mean they had actually organized it. However, their convictions for taking part in the rally were upheld. Martin LeeMargaret Ng and Albert Ho were given suspended sentences or credit for time served, and were released. But Jimmy Lai, Leung Kwok-hung, Cyd Ho and Lee Cheuk-yan remained in custody, as they also face charges under the National Security Law. (HKFPPRI, The Independent)

Hong Kong pro-democracy radio station closed down

Hong Kong's pro-democracy Citizen Radio aired its final broadcast June 30, with the founder citing the "dangerous" political environment. Tsang Kin-shing, a veteran political activist, wrote in the station's closing Facebook post of difficulties faced since protest movements in the city in 2014 and 2019. Under the National Security Law imposed by the Chinese government in 2020, the station's bank account was "frozen," and consequently it could only afford rent for the studio through August. "We could do nothing but to stop the broadcasting," said Tsang at the end of the post.

Hong Kong: bid to ban protest anthem backfires

The Hong Kong Department of Justice applied to the Special Administrative Region's High Court on June 5 for an injunction to prohibit any performance or online dissemination of the song "Glory to Hong Kong," anthem of the 2019 protest movement. The government asserts that the song contains secessionist lyrics and constitutes an insult to the Chinese national anthem, "March of the Volunteers." The action seeks to remove 32 YouTube videos, asserting that they breach multiple laws in Hong Kong and China, including the National Security Law, the Crimes Ordinance and the National Anthem Ordinance.

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